You may have heard that our pal Arthur Hoyle recently penned a brilliant biography on Miller, entitled “The Unknown Henry Miller: A Seeker in Big Sur.” It’s received rave reviews, including one in the Times Literary Supplement.
We’ve included some excerpts from the review below. And if you’re interested in the book you can order it from us here.
“Comprehensive . . . An in-depth and original exploration of the insecurities behind [Miller’s] famed bravado . . . . The Unknown Henry Miller is at its most revealing when it weighs Miller’s Whitman- and Thoreau-inspired philosophy against this vulnerability, and particularly his struggle to cope with the demands of domestic adult life . . . .
Miller appears in real rather than canonized form, impressive for his commitment to a rare aesthetic and philosophical vision but necessarily a source both of frustration and affection for his friends, lovers and readers.”
“Like Miller’s past biographers Jay Martin (Always Merry and Bright, 1978), Mary Dearborn (The Happiest Man Alive, 1991) and Robert Ferguson (Henry Miller: A Life, 1991), Hoyle points out discrepancies between the cocksure, irreverent lothario and the “very hurt man laughing” that Nin identifies in her diaries.
“Here, as in these earlier studies, Miller’s candid, sometimes brutal writing on sex is understood as his direct response to a puritanical German-American upbringing by a mother whom he hated for her rigid conventionality, her harshness and humorlessness, her henpecking of his father.
“We are reminded that the worst of Tropic of Cancer¹s excesses were fabricated; indeed, Miller was a great deal more respectful and kind to the people in his life particularly the women than the raging, unforgiving passages in his early novels suggest.”
“The Unknown Henry Miller is at its most revealing when it weighs Miller’s Whitman- and Thoreau-inspired philosophy against this vulnerability, and particularly his struggle to cope with the demands of domestic adult life.
“While praising the principled refusal to take up “useful employment” and intelligently connecting it to Miller¹s “personal credo of self-realization,” Hoyle carefully consults the women who shared Miller’s life in Big Sur, arriving at a sober assessment of the day-to-day reality behind his “romantic fantasy of . . . hardy pioneer surviving alone in the wilderness.”